Sunday, May 3, 2009

Singers and Song Preferences

A person I once knew said to me that bird songs are not actually expressions of joy, but expressions of stress (he was really sort of a negative person anyway, in retrospect).  I told him that I didn't think that could be true, because the bird's glee is so clear in their songs.  I now also realize that when stressed out (by having the cage cleaned, or when Nikko the cat was nearby during the budgies trip through KY), the budgies are very, very quiet.   However, in addition to being complex beings when it comes to food or perch choices, as noted in the prior post, budgie vocalization choices are also more complex than simply expressing either "joy" (or stress).   Budgies have at least the following repertoire of song types:
  • Singing for singing's sake ("Grooming song"):  This consists of rather long, varied songs, usually executed by the males (Sutcliffe or Magoo) or less often, Boo, and least often, if ever, by Mary ann.  When one of the birds is singing in this way, the three other birds tend to groom.
  • Chirping to mate/flock: This vocalization is a loud "chHHIIIRRRPPP! chhuuuirrPPPPP" which is executed when any gender of budgie is separated from the cage/flock.  When Sutcliffe or Mary ann are the isolated budgie and one of them makes this sound, their mate replies in kind.  However, this reply may or may not happen if one of the other budgies is in the isolated circumstance (brought away from the cage and into a different room).  The non-mated budgies are also less likely to make this noise when in isolation.
  • Singing after trying new food: This is largely Sutcliffe's realm.
  • Singing along to the radio or when one of us is on the phone: All participate.  the favorite songs are Toby Keith songs.  They seem to like K's calls to Oma.
  • Greeting the day and the night: Budgies (all) sing with vigor, varied songs, all at once, first thing in the morning and when the sun goes down (or the lights in the house are dimmed as we all wind down).  It is a joyous sound!

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The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple
Sutcliffe and Maryann in early 2007